Ten Million Electric Miles and Counting: By Jove, It Does Work in the Real World

Tesla Roadsters in over thirty countries have driven more than ten million real-world miles. That's 500,000 gallons of fuel that didn't burn and over 5.3 million pounds of averted carbon dioxide emissions. The credit goes to approximately 1,500 Roadster owners around the world who drive their electric vehicles in all conditions; they’re an enthusiastic group who often talk and blog about their experiences.

Tesla is committed to building the best cars in the world. And in doing so, catalyzing change in a very traditional industry by convincing drivers that EVs can match and surpass automobiles run by combustion. That's not an easy task. But the Roadster has changed a lot of minds.

Of course, not everyone is enthusiastic. We also hear from vocal EV detractors. As with all new, disruptive technologies, there are plenty of misconceptions, rumors, and lies. We try to forcefully correct those before they get out of hand, and believe the industry is better for it. In that vein, with some reluctance, Tesla served the BBC's Top Gear with a lawsuit yesterday for libel and malicious falsehood. It is the only recourse we have; our repeated attempts to contact the BBC, over the course of months, were ignored.

About two years ago, Top Gear ran a segment containing false and exaggerated criticisms of the Roadster. In the episode, two Roadsters are depicted as suffering several critical "breakdowns" during track driving. The show’s script, written before the cars were tested, has host Jeremy Clarkson concluding the segment by saying, "in the real world, it doesn’t seem to work."

At the time, we were good sports. Tesla was a young start-up company, having delivered 140 cars to customers in the United States. Those early adopters knew what they were driving, and were not affected by the show’s lies. Tesla concentrated on building and delivering revolutionary cars.

Yet the show continues to air. According to Wikipedia, Top Gear has 350 million viewers worldwide. The programme's lies are repeatedly and consistently re-broadcast to hundreds of millions of viewers on BBC channels and web sites, on other TV channels via syndication; the show is available on the Internet, and is for sale on DVD around the world.

Today, we continue to field questions and explain the serious misconceptions created by the show. Many of us have heard: I know this car, the one that broke down on Top Gear. Despite the show's buffoonery, Clarkson’s words are taken as truth, not only about the Roadster, but about EVs.

Over the last several months, we have written to the BBC, asking them to stop repeating the serious and damaging lies on the show. Specifically:

  • The Roadster's true range is only 55 miles per charge. Clarkson says: "Although Tesla say it will do 200 miles we worked out that on our track it would run out after just 55 miles."

    Fact: The Roadster has been certified under UN ECE R101, the EU regulation for measuring electric vehicle range, at 211 miles. All ECE R101 tests are witnessed and certified by a neutral third party approved by the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe, in Tesla's case, the Department of Road Transport – Netherlands. Of course, a car driven aggressively will get reduced mileage, regardless of whether its fueled by petrol or electricity, as Top Gear found. At the other end of the spectrum, through mindful driving, a Tesla owner achieved an astounding 313 miles on a single charge. To let either of these extremes represent real-world range is an incomplete analysis.

  • One of the Roadsters ran out of charge and had to be pushed into the Top Gear hangar by four men.

    Fact: Neither Roadster ran out of charge during Top Gear's tests, or even came close. We know because the Roadster records basic operating information. The show fails to mention that neither Roadster ever went below twenty-five percent charge. Why stage the stunt of pushing it into the hangar?

  • The Roadster's brakes broke, rendering the car not drivable.

    Fact: During Top Gear’s drive on the test track, the fuse for the braking system's electric vacuum pump failed. But the brakes were operational and safe. The result was like driving a car without the convenient power brakes to which we’ve grown accustomed. Tesla's brakes, both with and without the fuse, must pass all UN ECE safety tests, and they do.

  • Neither Roadster provided to Top Gear was available for test driving due to these problems.

    Fact: At all times, there was at least one Roadster at the ready.

If the episode had been broadcast in 2008, and not rebroadcast repeatedly to hundreds of millions of new viewers all over the globe, Tesla would not have sued. We’re not doing this for money. As the world leader in EV technology, Tesla owes it to the public to stop Top Gear’s disinformation campaign and provide the truth. Top Gear scripted how the show would end before they ever got into the car. Meanwhile, the show continues to seriously misinform its fans.

Despite the lies, we move forward with our commitment to building the best cars in the world. In two years, the Roadster has delighted early adopters and won over skeptics worldwide. It has demonstrated Tesla’s technology in spectacular fashion. Most importantly, as our owners will attest, it is a real world vehicle that has paved the way for EVs to come.

More information can be found here.


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"Who is to say that the "5.3 million pounds of carbon dioxide emissions" so-called "averted" is an accurate figure all up?"

Good question. As NICU summarized, refining gasoline requires a lot of energy. About 6 to 8 kWh for each gallon of gas. This energy intensive step is of course totally unnecessary for the worst case scenario for an EV, the use coal based electricity.

Lets consider the electricity needs of an average 22 MPG car for 1) delivering oil to the refinery (electrically pumped in pipelines?), 2)processing oil into refined gasoline and 3)trucking gasoline to retail outlets, to store it and then pump it into customers gas tanks.

With so many kWh's of energy required, it is possible that driving a roadster, depending on it's location, could use less electricity than the average ICE, with no burning of gasoline required.

The roadster motor will run using electricity from any source at 92% efficiency v. about 22% efficiency for the ICE fleet with an average of 22 miles on a gallon of gasoline refined, using about 3.5 kWh of electricity and 3 to 5 kWh of energy derived from oil and gas feed-stocks.

In my state the largest industrial use of electricity is to transport water to it's point of use. Refining gasoline requires a tremendous amount of water in addition the the large amount of water used to generate the electricity the refineries need to process the fuel. Oil refineries have been second largest industrial user of electricity in my state, behind water, for quite a while now. It appears Tesla may have been very conservative in their estimates.


The Tesla Roadster is a collector's item. They are making 2500 total EVER (across a 3.5 year build). When they run out, that's it, no more (and they're down to the last 100 or so).

When you look at the handmade supercars (Bugatti's, Ferrari's, etc), they all cost much more than the Roadster. So, from a collector's standpoint, it's a bargain at $100k.
Again, looking at the Bugatti or Ferrari, how many of their owners want to drive them hundreds of miles a day? Not too many, because they are collectible, and putting lots of miles on them decreases their value.

But the Roadster is made to be driven! 1500 roadsters drive 10 million miles. That's an average of about 6700 miles each. Not a lot of miles, but again, it's a collector's item.

At the same time, I think that the Roadster could easily drive 100 miles/day 5 days/week = 25k miles/year as a commuter with a long commute, and it would be so much more affordable then the other exotic roadsters out there. If you drove 25k miles/year for 5 years, that would be 125k miles.
If we compare a BMW Z4 roadster taking premium gas at $4.50/gallon now, getting 28 mpg hwy, that's about $20k in gas. If we look a the cost for the roadster, it's about $2500 in electricity. That's a 17.5k savings in fuel alone. In reality, combined driving fuel economy is probably more like 20mpg for the roadster, which would push the gas price up over $28k for the 5 years. Now we're talking about a $25k savings in fuel.

Next, look at service and maintenance. The Roadster needs a 12k mile/annual service (so we'd be getting 2/year driving 25k). The Z4 needs 5k mile/6 month service which would equate to 5/year. My guess is that the Z4 service is at least as expensive if not more than the Roadster service, since there are a lot more parts to check and service. Let's be REALLY generous and say that the annual service for the Roadster is $200 ($100 for each) and the Z4 is $250 ($50 each). That's still saving $250 over 5 years on the Roadster, and that's bound to be an extremely low estimate.

The purchase price of the Roadster is about $100k, and the purchase price of the Z4 is about $54k, so if you keep both cars for 5 years, and you save $25k in gas, you're now looking at a $21k price premium for the Roadster.

People that buy a Roadster are looking at the future of EV technology, buying a really cool car that looks awesome and is fun to drive. Tesla is finally beating one of the greatest stigma's about the EV, that they aren't fun to drive.

If I owned a Roadster, I'd be proud to drive it everywhere that I could, enjoying the eco-friendly, cost effective travel.

For everyone that says that TG hurt TM, or that TM is hurting themselves by suing TG, I think that you're missing the fact that most people that are trying to go green are less concerned about the track performance of a car, and more concerned about the real life performance of a car. TG didn't test the Roadster in standard driving conditions, they tested it in race conditions. I doubt that anyone who owns a Roadster would do the 0-60 sprint in 3.7 seconds every single time that the light turns green, and some might not even do it once. But that's what TG was showing, that when you drive the car flat-out, it's range is crippled. The same holds true for a Ferrari where the gas basically goes straight from the pump to the exhaust when you floor it, and the fuel gage starts leaning towards E.


I'v had my Tesla Roadster for 13 months and 4,500 miles now. It's range exceeds 200 miles, I know because I drove it in the mountains for 200 miles and had 20 miles or so left when I got home.
It's an amazing car and been srvice free except for a problem with the cruise control which Tesla fixed.
I've already ordered a Tesla Model S!